MALE (Maldives), – The close bilateral ties between Malaysia and the Maldives today have been strengthened through collaborative efforts and smart partnerships in various sectors which benefit both countries.
Taking advantage of the multi shared values, religion and culture, Kuala Lumpur and Male want the 49-year diplomatic relations to be further enhanced to foster closer people-to-people ties of both nations, making it the pillar of Maldives-Malaysia relations.
The two-day official visit by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the invitation of Maldives President Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, saw both countries paying mutual respect to their strengths and expressing the desire to learn from each other to create smart partnerships which would benefit both parties.
Although Najib’s first visit to the island nation was brief, both the Malaysian and Maldives government finalised four memorandums-of-understanding, paving the way for future joint ventures.
The MoUs include the setting up of the Maldives Culture Centre, in the firefighting and rescue training, in the field of higher education, as well as in health.
Keen to see economic growth in both countries in certain sectors like the halal food industry, as well as services, Islamic finance and tourism, Kuala Lumpur and Male want the people to be involved in the development and economic agenda.
Najib said Malaysia and Maldives could participate in the halal industry together to generate profitable economic activities, especially since Malaysia had expertise in halal certification issued by the Department of Islamic Development which had become a global benchmark.
“We (Malaysia and Maldives) can work together even in exporting to a third country. We are also looking at Islamic finance as Malaysia is a pioneer in this sector,” he said.
Maldives, which views Malaysia as an exemplary economic model, has invited Malaysian companies to invest and be involved in development projects, promoting new growth centres and developing the island nation which is known as a major international tourist destination.
Saying that Malaysia was among the countries which had been very involved in Maldives’ socio-economic growth since diplomatic ties were established in 1968, Abdullah Yameen said that he hoped more Malaysian investors would seize the opportunities offered there.
“We also agreed to create a suitable mechanism to encourage joint-ventures in business, trade and investments as well as collaborations in the private sector,” said the Maldivian president.
Impressed with the success of the Maldives in the tourism sector which was a leading contributor to the country’s economy, Malaysia wants to learn how it catapulted itself globally into a major tourist destination.
Malaysia also wants to learn from the island nation which is located in the Indian Ocean and comprises 1,190 islands, how it handled the challenges it faced, including concerning logistics.
Of the total number of islands, only 195 are inhabited and about 90 have been developed as tourist destinations.
Najib said it was a good opportunity for Malaysian companies to grab and be involved in the development of the tourism sector in the smallest nation in Asia in terms of population and land size.
The 90,000-kilometre island state has a population of almost 450,000.
Malaysia and the Republic of Maldives, both Muslim nations, have also friendly ties in a number of other areas including education and technical assistance as well as the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) which benefits the people of the two countries.
In the development of human resource, especially in the health sector, Malaysia wants both countries to create a mutual recognition of medical courses in tertiary institutions.
There are currently 1,700 Maldivian students in Malaysia, including 65 medical students.
Malaysia will also play a role in providing quality health services in Maldives through the Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care which is currently being built.
Najib’s maiden visit to the country which he described as ?beautiful, pristine and romantic’, has taken ties between both nations to a higher level, paving the way to a brighter future for both.